The ability to recognize familiar faces or to learn to recognize new ones is a complex image process that we, humans, take for granted. Other mammals such as chimps have that ability, but what about sheep?
A recent study revealed that scientists succeeded in training sheep to recognize the faces of four celebrities by repeatedly presenting the sheep with photographs of their faces. Then the sheep were shown two different photos on separate computer screens—one of the “learned” celebrity and one of an unknown face. The sheep were able to identify the learned face eight times out of ten.
The sheep were also able to recognize their handler from a photograph, a task that requires shifting from a 3D to a 2D representation, demonstrating that sheep have face recognition abilities similar to humans’. Further research might also shed light on whether sheep can identify emotional expressions on human faces—imagine that while you’re counting sheep at night!